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Keep up the good work: Sticking with the changes

Health & fitness column

Yes, it has been about four weeks since you sat down and made those New Year’s resolutions and the big question is: Are you still adhering to them?

It is a known fact that 50 percent of New Year’s resolutions go by the wayside within six months. Therefore, my hope is that after only four weeks you are still hanging in there.

New and healthy habits do not form overnight and that is why the longer you keep up with these habits, the more likely you will be to having a whole new healthy outlook and perspective when the summer months come around.

The take away from this first tip on how to stick with your changes is for you to actually stick with them. The longer you bring your lunch to work instead of going out to lunch, the more likely it is to become a habit and part of your everyday routine. You will forget that you ever went out to lunch, and making and bringing your lunch will simply be part of who you are.

That brings me to another tip — change your routine up to avoid or distract yourself from the “old” habits that you want to change. Find new ways to do things, just like I said about making your lunch instead of going out to eat every day.

On the same level, if your family used to eat out at fast-food restaurants three times a week, make this a once-a-week treat and stick with that new routine.

You can also change up your routine to avoid temptations or pitfalls to reverting back to old habits. For example, if you always came home after work and got a snack and sat down to watch TV with your kids, now you can come home, change your clothes and head out the door. Just being outside in a different environment will assist you in establishing these new routines. It cuts out getting a snack and also involves some outdoor activity. Maybe you don’t do this every day, but gradually establish this new routine and, before you know it, it will be your routine.

The third thing I want to address is self-control, the will and determination to avoid temptation. Everyone has this; they just need to find a way to bring it to the surface. A surefire way to establish s-control is simply by avoiding the things that tempt you.

As I previously mentioned, bring your lunch to work instead of going out to eat. If you aren’t at the restaurant, you won’t be tempted by that burger with fries. Out of sight, out of mind comes into play here and self-control will be built. These truly are things that can help you stick with your new health habits.

There is one more thing that I have found to be of personal use on so many occasions and that is to be accountable. In other words, ask others to make these changes with you, and the best place to start is with your family. If your kids are looking forward to going to the park after work and school, you don’t want to let them down, so as soon as you get home head to the park and run, jump and play until it is time to go home and cook a healthy meal with your kids’ help and input.

Friends or co-workers can also be of assistance with this. Recruit someone to go for a walk during the day or a friend to eat out with on the weekends and commit to order healthy choices.

All of these tips are intended to assist you in keeping up all the good work that you have done so far in this New Year. Happy New Year and good luck.

Dr. Kirsten Lupinski is an assistant professor at Albany State University in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department. She has a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina, an M.S. in Health Education from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in Education from the University of Cincinnati. She has worked in the health education field in various capacities (corporate health, community health, college health and wellness and university education) for more than 15 years. She and her husband have three young children (5-year-old twin sons and a 2-year-old daughter).